Martin Luther King, Junior Day took place several weeks ago, but the above words still resonate. “The time is always ripe to do right.” It is. The right time to help the widow and orphan, to feed the hungry, and to give a hug to the frightened is right now, right here.
I like how the prophet Micah puts the reality. God speaks through him to the people of Israel, expressing sorrow and hurt over the Israelites’ hypocritical worship. He desires true worship, a worship that begins in the heart and expands outward into thoughts and actions.
God defines “good,” or “right,” in Micah 6:7-8 (NASB):
Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn fro my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
In the psalms, David also speaks of what is “right.” He says in Psalm 16:1-3 (NASB):
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend.
Jesus offers the final answer on what is good and right in the four gospels. The religious powers hope to entrap him (Mark 12, NASB), but Jesus easily outmaneuvers them. When one of the scribes hears Jesus’ replies, he asks, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Jesus, quoting a passage from Deuteronomy, says:
The foremost is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.
Doing what’s right isn’t hard. The right thing is loving God first and others second. “Right” evidences itself in works of righteousness, truth, and integrity. It seeks justice, acts with kindness, and walks humbly with God.
These things are right, and against them, as Paul would say in Galatians, “there is no law.” There isn’t. There’s only the dogged pursuit of what is good and right, because, again quoting Paul, “In due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (in doing good)” (Ephesians 6:9, NASB).
We will, so let us not grow weary. May we instead embrace Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior’s perspective. “The time is always ripe to do right.”
Image: Tawheed Manzoor (Creative Commons)